Heavy Duty Trucking

OCT 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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FuelSmarts t 28 HDT • OCTOBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com ness for everybody. "There are 88,000 large municipalities all over the U.S. that have fleets, and most of their trucks drive less than 80 miles per day. The economics of an electric truck are very positive." One company that shut down but says it's coming back is Smith Electric Vehicles. It had built about 800 trucks before "pausing" production in April. "The restructuring and recapitalization effort went well," says President and CEO Bryan Hansel of a $42 million infusion from Sinopoly Battery Limited. It's a Hong Kong-based maker of lithium-ion batteries and related equipment, which Smith will use when it resumes production. However, the company can use domestic batteries when bidding for busi- ness with companies with "Buy America" requirements, he says. Orders are in hand, Hansel says, and this fall Smith will resume building New- ton low-cab-forward trucks, which combine a stripped chassis with a cab from Ashok Leyland of India. Smith won't revive the Edison van. "We can't say how many orders we have because we're moving toward a public market," which will raise ad- ditional capital, Hansel says. "Almost every customer who has bought from us has come back. We're on the cusp southern California, which converts Isuzu NPR low-cab-forward trucks to electric power. "We remove the engine and trans- mission and sell them, and put in our own powertrain," Abramson explains. The battery is a high-energy lithium polymer type, made in the U.S. by Xalt. Zero sold its first truck in early 2010 to the City of Santa Monica, where it's still in use. The company is now processing orders for 12 trucks that will go to municipalities and fleets. "We don't like to see any of the electric vehicle companies go out of business, because it affects the percep- tion in the marketplace," Abramson says. He contends there's enough busi- By Tom Berg • Senior Editor There's still a spark of interest in electric trucks. As a fuel, electricity is cheap, and on the street, vehicles that use it are extremely clean. There is no internal combustion engine to maintain, so operating costs have been low. Drivers love them for their quickness and quietness, and clean- air advocates embrace them for their pollution-reduction potential. But electric trucks still cost two or three times the price of conventionally pow- ered trucks, needing government support for purchases to make decent business cases. Meanwhile, moderat- ing fuel prices have reduced the potential savings needed to pay off any extra invest- ment. One start-up com- pany, Boulder Electric Vehicles, shut down its California factory and Colorado headquar- ters over the summer, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. CEO Carter Brown told the newspaper slow sales were to blame. But Boulder is not filing for bankruptcy and is still servicing the trucks it has sold. Brown hopes changing market conditions will al- low the company to be resurrected. Boulder chose to develop a com- plete vehicle, including a chassis and a lightweight walk-in-type cab. This was expensive, says Tedd Abramson, president and CEO of Zero Truck in Electric trucks have benefits, but still struggle against economics A spark of interest PHOTO: ELECTRIC VEHICLES INTERNATIONAL EVI assembled 100 electric-drive vans for UPS using FCCC glider kits, and 15 cab-chassis trucks for Frito-Lay from Freightliner M2 gliders. Other builders have pulled diesel powertrains from com- plete trucks and installed electric components.

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